The gothic setting of the ever-mysterious moors of northern England, a favorite locale for Romantic novelists (especially the Bronte sisters), becomes a central and crucial character in Yale Rep’s The Moors. That doesn’t mean that it upstages the brilliant performances delivered by the entire cast. Rather it is a tribute to the wildly imaginative and playful work of Jen Silverman who penned this play with dark comedy and saucy satire. Directed by Jackson Gay, the play unfolds with people acting like animals and animals acting like people. The parallels highlight vicious natures, no matter what the species, when placed in the bleak and daunting environment of the moors.
There are times when one can’t help but think of Jane Eyre, in which that famed governess fell head over heels in love with Mr. Rochester only to learn that his insane wife, hidden away in the attic, is still alive. In Silverman’s play, touched with delightful feminist touches, it is the male who is hidden in the attic. Spinster sisters Agatha and Huldey are continually at odds with each other. Agatha, a domineering lesbian, has invited a governess to the moor-house. Since there are no children, Huldey is confused, but always submissive to her sister’s demands. Huldey craves attention, just as the Mastiff in the house craves attention. Huldey tries to get her sister to read her journals, but is ignored. The maids, Marjory and Mallory, are not treated kindly, and the lonely Mastiff gets stepped over and continually pushed away.